The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 continues the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her uprising against the fascist state, and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is off on his high horse trying to stamp her out, stating that anyone who promotes the use of the Mockingjay symbol is a baddie and they will have a bullet put in their brain. He claims his actions are to bring about some respect for law and order. And he expects to get re-elected?? Then again, maybe he’s like Robert Mugabe and Vladimir Putin, where they all fix the result to get what he wants.
Katniss starts off is sort-of in hospital, but it’s actually in District 13, unaware of the commotion she created in accidentally starting a revolution. So it’s a bit like when Kevin Arnold walked out of class in The Wonder Years, and started a… walkout. Hence the name.
Her home district in ruins – looking like a scene from Sniper Elite III – she’s upset not only for this but because Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has gone missing. So imagine how she feels, before long, when not only does he turn out to be alive, but he’s also batting for the baddies, these days!
In this third entry in the series, District 13 want her to be their Mockingjay, i.e. their representative in the revolution, something she’ll only do if they’ll go back in and rescue Peeta and the others who were left behind at the end of the second film. However, she might be none too popular given her male friend having turned traitor.
The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 plays on how the media can be vultures when it comes to picking their latest ratings-grabbing poster girl or boy, not caring at all for their welfare, as long as they can, effectively, get their money shot.
As for how successful I found this as a film, the whole thing felt massively uninvolving and I think it would’ve been better to have tightened things up and to make one near-three-hour film based on the entire Mockingjay novel, rather than two films. But then, when Peter Jackson was asked why he made The Hobbit into three films instead of two, just before the third one was released, he pointed out that the first two each grossed $1bn… And there’s your answer.
Replace the setting with World War II, and swap one of Katniss’ rousing speeches with some jingoistic fluff from Winston Churchill and you see from the scenario this draws its inspiration.
At one point, Katniss keeps saying “President Snow” repeatedly, and it makes me think she’s about to burst into song as it’s quite melodic. And in another part when she’s sobbing uncontrollably at something, she sounds like Beaker from The Muppets!
Acting-wise, most of the cast are as wooden as always in this series, but Sutherland hams it up nicely. Lawrence, however, sulks throughout (understandably, given the subject matter).
The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1 runs for a just over a mere two hours, but even a day after watching it, I still feel like I’m waiting for it to start! Then again, it’s got Natalie Dormer (below) with a rather fetching half-shaved head, so I’ll watch her in anything.
Oh, and there’s not many 12-certificate films out there which show mass slaughter by machine gun fire.
And when it comes those four musical notes that denote ‘Mockingjay’, is it just me or does anyone else hear Simon Bates' Our Tune theme ? Okay, so it’s the love them from Romeo & Juliet, but how did the filmmakers licence it for their movie, or have they just taken it without consent?
Part 2 will be the last movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greatest actors of a generation. He passed away while it was being made but I hope he still gets to do more than he did in Part 1, since he’s mostly just drifting through it.
Go to page 2 for the presentation and the extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.